Trevor Guthrie works primarily in monochrome making large format charcoal drawings. Guthrie makes his point through the re-presentation of found photographs into larger than life renderings on paper. If contemporary photographic practice produces photographs through an appropriation or reinvestigation of painted masterpieces from the past, then Guthrieís strategies go towards the opposite. Trevor Guthrie employs photographic materials or anything he discovers or deems useful towards his endgame. This process is less the conceptually driven tactics of art historical research than a plundering of the treasures inherent in our image-rich digital playground. This treasure is then organized as a of visual diary pieced together through a system of discovered truths. These truths are tempered by the artistís experiences. Guthrie involves himself with photographic source material that somehow connects to his childhood yet strongly rooted in the morbidity of an adult awareness. Guthrie has been exposed to artists working in a similar manner. Gerhard Richterís influence is apparent as is Francis Bacon and Edward Hopper. Trevor Guthrie has combined his influences the way a DJ superimposes transparent layers of curated sound thus achieving an original piece of music. Untitled, 2006 is taken from a photograph of an air Canada plane on the runway with smoke billowing from itís cabin. Guthrie was raised in Canada which makes the drawing a visual pun. The imageís horizontal strokes remind one of Francis Baconís paint handling without pushing too far into Gerhard Richterís visual language. Guthrie has found a delicate balance with his method that avoids the traps of stylistic imitation. A liberation from the trap of overt imitation is what sets these pictures apart. When one first views a Guthrie drawing, there is an instant shock. This shock is the subconscious mindís recognition that it is not a photograph being experienced, but Guthrieís capturing of the cameraís version of realityís ghost. This talent for finding the mysterious understructure of pictorial code is also the inherent strength of Francis Bacon. Even the most mundane of subjects is infused with meaning in this way. The sublime takes on the much more elusive forms such as an apparition beneath the picture plane. Guthrieís drawing from 2004 entitled Myself on the no. 67 is a view of an empty city bus seen from the back looking forward with a self portrait of the artist seen sitting alone at the front right hand side of the bus interior. There is a sublime reflective quality to the mirrored surfaces found in the bus interior. Light is bouncing all through the stainless steel framework of the interior, an interior that remains strangely lonely at the same time. The monadic artist with his back turned from the viewer is reminiscent of Vermeerís self portrait. Myself on the no. 67 could be seen as a contemporary Edward Hopper. As in Hopper, Guthrie has the ability to inhabit that lonely urban interior space. This type of pictorial space Guthrie inhabits is a deep perspective system heightened by dramatic cinematic lighting for which charcoal on paper is a perfect medium.
2006 Noah Becker